Registration is open for Dickens Day 2016: “Dickens’s Days: Heritage, Celebrations and Anniversaries” on Saturday 8 October at Senate House, London. See the full programme and buy tickets here.
Speakers include Michael Slater, Steven Connor, Valerie Purton and Andrew Sanders and the day will finish with a dramatised reading of Dickens’s and Wilkie Collins’s play The Frozen Deep.
Dickens Day turns 30 in 2016, so, in a mood both retrospective and celebratory, those in attendance will be thinking about time, memory, narrative and biography in Dickens’s work, the multiple, complex and sometimes contradictory ways he narrates, commemorates and celebrates time’s passing, and the different ways in which Dickens, in his turn, has been commemorated and celebrated. Dickens’s novels are famous for their depictions of what he regarded as the universal milestones of life – birth, courtship, marriage, childrearing, death – but his novels also teem with alternative life stories and unconventional modes of living and relating. Dickens was famously convivial – anniversaries, celebrations and parties of all kinds can be found in his work – but his fiction also abounds with a melancholy sense of life’s impermanence, heavily inflected by his Christian belief in a consolatory salvation. Furthermore, Dickens often uses humour and satire to mock solemnity, deflate pretention and undermine formal and informal celebrations and milestones – witness Pip’s miserable Christmas in Great Expectations or the dreadful parties thrown by the Podsnaps in Our Mutual Friend. Autobiography and biography are also famously prominent in Dickens’s fiction and non-fiction and he continually reworked and reimagined his own life story via his writing. Dickens was also fascinated by the transformative moments or decisions on which a life might turn, observing in Great Expectations, the ‘long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.’ Relatedly, his work abounds with humorous, surreal and mournful counter-factuals that consider how a life might have otherwise turned out.
Jointly run by Birkbeck, Cardiff University, the Dickens Fellowship and the Institute of English Studies, this one day conference will explore Heritage, Celebrations and Anniversaries in Dickens’s life and work. Please join in a day of papers and readings; the conference organisers extend a warm welcome to scholars and academics, students, enthusiasts, members of the Dickens Fellowship and all Dickensians.